Johnson & Johnson will pay the state of New York more than $230 million in a settlement that also ensures the company will permanently stay out of the opioid business in the United States, the state attorney general’s office announced Saturday.
The settlement comes at a time when the opioid industry is facing over 3,000 lawsuits across the nation for its contribution to an epidemic of prescription and street opioid abuse that has killed more than 800,000 Americans in the past 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And it came just days before opening arguments in a sweeping New York trial in which the company was to be among the defendants. That trial will be the first of its kind to go before a jury, and the first to target the entire opioid supply chain, from the drugmakers who manufactured the pills to the distributors that supplied them to a pharmacy chain that filled prescriptions for them.
“The opioid epidemic has wreaked havoc on countless communities across New York state and the rest of the nation, leaving millions still addicted to dangerous and deadly opioids,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “Johnson & Johnson helped fuel this fire, but today they’re committing to leaving the opioid business — not only in New York, but across the entire country.”